Conventional wisdom among the experts states that the Internet of Things (IoT) is the next great technological revolution, one the likes of which we haven’t seen since the internet itself was first introduced.
There’s a great deal of excitement surrounding the IoT, and many businesses both big and small are trying to get out ahead of the trend.
We’ve already seen wearable fitness devices gain traction, and smart home appliances aren’t far behind.
All signs point to the Internet of Things exploding onto the market in a wide variety of ways.
Considering the estimates that there will be tens of billions of web-connected devices by the next decade, the IoT is about as close to a thing to being an inevitability, right? Maybe not.
For all the positivity surrounding IoT predictions, the Internet of Things is far from a sure thing.
In fact, it could just as well die before ever getting a real chance among consumers.
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Big Data Dependence
Of course, the very idea that the IoT could end up failing sounds like a fantastical notion. After all, the number of benefits that could come from the Internet of Things is long and fascinating. However, there’s one major ingredient that makes all of the IoT devices both real and theorized work properly, data. And not just any type of data.
We’re talking about big data collected from the people who use those devices. Without big data, the IoT only reaches a fraction of its potential. So it’s well understood that users will need to be willing to give up their data in order to receive those benefits. The big question is, will that actually be the case?
It’s no secret that consumers have become much more wary about privacy and security issues involving the Internet in the past few years. Most people now know how large companies like Google and Facebook can collect their personal information and use it to streamline services and deliver content more tailored to an individual’s tastes and preferences.
Many people are willing to part with that information if it means greater convenience and added perks, but now many are beginning to question what else their data could be used for. This all ties back into an overarching fear of “Big Brother” constantly watching everything we do. If that fear is present for our usual web activities, it’s only expected to grow as the Internet of Things expands.
Just think of all the devices that are or could be part of the IoT: jewelry, toasters, clothing, cars, traffic lights, thermostats, washing machines, and so much more. Now imagine every single one of those devices is collecting data on the user.
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Businesses may use that data for perfectly practical and sensible reasons, but how comfortable will consumers be knowing potentially sensitive information will be in the hands of faceless companies? Beyond privacy implications, security is still a major concern, one that many companies creating IoT devices have yet to solve.
What could be gained if health information were stolen from a wearable fitness band? Many users may not see the danger of having a hacked toaster, but in the IoT, everything connects and communicates with each other. A connected fridge may not have much sensitive information, but if hackers infiltrate that network, and through that a person’s smartphone but other kinds of data could be accessed.
Beyond those concerns, there’s also the concept of IoT fatigue. If the concept of having a connected toaster sounds ridiculous, then that is likely a result of IoT fatigue. Many consumers laugh or cringe at having yet another device connected to the internet to the point of believing that the connectivity craze has gone too far.
IoT devices have quickly penetrated nearly every kind of market. They’re showing up everywhere, and for a substantial portion of them, many people are left wondering if they really need them. The Internet of Things hasn’t even come close to reaching its peak, but if fatigue is already setting in, how confident can anyone be that the IoT will be a hit?
This is, of course, all speculation. The IoT could very well be the major transformative field that everyone says it is. But it’s important to continue to view it as anything but a guaranteed success. Consumers will want to know they’re getting enough value for their shared data.
More universal standards for security and privacy have to be implemented. More technologies like fog computing and products from converged infrastructure vendors will need to gain momentum.
With worries and concerns properly addressed, the Internet of Things will be able to continue to grow and become the phenomenon many people predict it will be.
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